This was one of many questions I asked myself when starting my solo practice. The answer is they can’t.
I am not an expert in all aspects of law, and I can’t answer every client question. There are many times I must consult with attorneys specializing in different practice areas. Consultation is fundamental to the legal profession, and a lot of billable time is spent contemplating “what if” and unintended consequences.
Despite this, there are significant benefits to working with a solo practitioner.
From a corporate perspective, I’m a one-stop shop. I’m fully immersed in every issue, and given my many years of experience, I understand all the terms of the complex commercial transactions I’m engaged in.
Because I do all the drafting and negotiation, nothing is lost in translation. There are no gaps in communication, as sometimes occur in law firms between associates that are drafting, and the partner who is conversing directly with the client.
I also eliminate the duplication of effort that’s inherent in bigger law firms, where every word an associate writes is reviewed by the partner in charge. This saves time and the client’s money, as there is no double-billing for the same document. As a solo, I improve upon the efficiency in creating and delivering the work product.
In my practice, the majority of my clientele consists of corporate entities, with C-suite executives representing their companies or themselves in acquisitions, leasing, and/or financing transactions. Complications arise when aspects of these transactions require expertise outside of my practice area, particularly tax law.
Recently, a potential client was referred to me seeking help with some acquisitions. He told me he preferred to deal with only one professional, but because he is a United Kingdom citizen living in California, consideration was needed with respect to cross-border tax implications that could impact his business and the transactions at hand. I referred him to a tax attorney with an expertise in cross-border transactions.
Even when engaging a big law firm, clients may not have a single point of contact. Corporate attorneys are often not comfortable speaking on behalf of their tax colleagues. They’d rather have tax advice provided directly from the horse’s mouth.
As a solo, when issues outside of my expertise are presented, I’m compelled to seek advice from, or put clients in direct contact with, attorneys specializing in those areas. It would be remiss of me not to make referrals intended to ensure the coordination of my work with other appropriate professionals.